No success like failure

26th May 2006 at 01:00
A year can be a very long time in education. It was only last summer that former primary teacher Liz Beattie caused an uproar by saying the F word should be replaced by "deferred success" - the F word, of course, was failure. Ruth Kelly, the then education secretary, gave her a prompt nought out of 10 for her suggestion, though she may be having second thoughts since her own success has been deferred to the Department for Communities and Local Government. Now Glasgow psychologist Alan McLean is saying schools should have failure days to help pupils to learn from their setbacks.

As teachers struggle to cope with the problems of children at the other end of the academic scale, too often the more gifted pupils are left to cruise as success comes easily to them, or to switch off because they are bored.

Some are young people driven by a will to succeed and if they don't learn how to cope with failure at school, the repercussions in later life can be more serious. Some have been known to drop out of university and suffer mental health problems. If inclusion means anything, it must embrace everyone.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today